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Coronavirus / Around five people a day enquiring about expanded Covid-19 testing scheme

AN AVERAGE of five people a day in Shetland are self-referring themselves for a coronavirus test.

However, not all people have proved to be eligible for the scheme and any tests that have been carried out have returned negative – with no positive cases recorded in the isles since April.

At the end of May a national government-led expansion of Covid-19 testing launched locally in Shetland, with anyone over the age of five able to ask for a test while self-isolating if they believe they are displaying symptoms.

The test – which is being carried out with a self-swab kit at people’s homes – should be done as soon as possible after developing symptoms, ideally within three days.

The three recognised symptoms for coronavirus are a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss of sense of taste or smell.

The initial plans were for the swabs to be sent to the Lighthouse Laboratory in Glasgow for analysing, but speaking in his weekly video update on Wednesday night, NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson confirmed the health board was able to process the tests locally as there is sufficient capacity.

He said not everyone coming forward through the scheme is eligible for a test, using the example of someone saying they had symptoms since March.

Dickson said this was still useful, though, as it allowed the person to receive advice.

“About five people a day are coming forward saying they believe they’re having symptoms, and therefore would like a test,” Dickson said.

“Currently our on-island testing capacity is able to do those tests, so we’re routing those tests through our internal lab, rather than sending them across to Glasgow to the Lighthouse Lab which has the capacity of 20,000 tests a day. That means they get the result on the same day.”

Dickson also said he could not stress enough “how much work” has gone into establishing the expanded scheme locally, which has had many logistical hurdles to overcome.

“It’s a huge, huge credit to the people involved,” he said.

People with symptoms (or on behalf of someone with symptoms) can complete a self-referral form hereThey can also phone 01595 532030 to self-refer between 9am-12.30pm and 2pm-5pm on weekdays.